From Iceland — General Strike Could Begin May 1

General Strike Could Begin May 1

Published April 7, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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A proposed general strike could begin at the start of next month, a labour union coalition leader confirmed.

Björn Snæ­björns­son, chairperson of the Federation of General and Special Workers in Iceland (SGS), told MBL that a vote on a general strike for 16 of its 19 labour unions will be held again after the weekend. Voting will “likely continue until April 20”. If union members vote in favour of a strike, it will begin “around the start of next month”, which could place the start of the strike on May 1, traditionally an important day for workers in labour unions in Iceland and elsewhere in the world.

As reported, SGS has already announced that they are prepared to strike if management does not agree to their key demand, which is to raise the minimum wage for their workers to 300,000 ISK per month over the next three years.

Currently, the base salary of an SGS worker is 201,317 ISK, raising to 214,000 after four months’ work. Most workers will not see more than 222,030 per month after seven years on the job.

In all, some 50,000 workers comprise SGS, hailing from many different fields and industries. Of the 16 trade unions who would go on strike if the vote passes, a great many of them are made of general laborers, but 42% work in wholesale food service (slaughterhouses, fish factories and the like), and 32% work in the tourist industry and cleaning services.

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